Juan Antonio Flecha: “I prefer Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Gent-Wevelgem”
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Juan Antonio Flecha: “I prefer Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Gent-Wevelgem”

by Ben Atkins at 4:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
 
2010 winner and last year’s runner-up ready to go one better in Openingsweekend, but not at his peak just yet

juan antonio flechaJuan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) started last year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with number one pinned to his back as defending champion. The 34-year-old Argentine-born Spaniard made the winning break on a cold, rainy day in Gent, and looked to have a good chance of a second victory; he was outsprinted by Rabobank’s Sebastian Langeveld though, in one of the closest finishes of the spring.

Flecha is ready to take on the race again, looking for a second victory in three years, but admits that he is not yet on the top of his form.

“You don’t want to be at 100% here,” he said, according to NUsport.nl. “Most of the top riders will not be at their peak tomorrow.”

The Spanish rider knows that he will be one of the riders that will be watched in tomorrow’s race, but specifically identified Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen as the big favourite for victory.

“Most of the contenders for victory are the same riders that will be at their peaks a few weeks later for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix,” he explained, “which are races of a higher caliber.”

While he knows that the two cobbled Monuments are at another level entirely, he holds the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad above most of the similar Semi-Classics.

“Tomorrow will be a great day,” he said. “Who can deny it? Because it’s a great course, a great crowd; the Omloop is nice to race.

“It’s not the Ronde van Vlaanderen, it’s true, but I like it better than Gent-Wevelgem, for example.”

Flecha will have to try to take back his title without the help of Norwegian prodigy Edvald Boasson Hagen though, who has had to withdraw from the race with a cold.

“It’s disappointing because Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a race I enjoy, but it’s good that I’ve got this cold out of the way sooner rather than later,” he said. “It would have been worse if it had come before the Tour of Flanders, or Paris-Roubaix, and I’ll be able to build my form back up at Tirreno-Adriatico before the Monuments begin.”

Boasson Hagen will be replaced in the British team by last year’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winner Chris Sutton, who will now ride both races.

Team Sky for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Alex Dowsett, Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Mathew Hayman, Jeremy Hunt, Christian Knees, Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton

Team Sky for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Mark Cavendish, Alex Dowsett, Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Mathew Hayman, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton

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